Lisa Bentley raced for 20 years as a professional triathlete. She won 11 Ironman and 16 Ironman 70.3 races. She should not have won any of them. She has cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening genetic lung disease.
But cystic fibrosis was the perfect fan for her inner fire, to turn “no” into “yes,” to find a way where there was no way.
She found that way many times. She found a way to turn cystic fibrosis into a gift. She found a way to turn hard work into talent. Her genetics would have had her wrapped in a warm blanket and coddled. But a sturdy work ethic, fierce desire, clear goals and an unwavering belief in self squashed her genetic blueprint. Lisa did not want to be told what she could not do. Instead, she showed the world what she could do when mind, body and spirit act in unison for the singular pursuit of excellence.
Lisa became one of Canada’s best triathletes and was ranked top 5 in the world for over a decade. She had several top 5 finishes at the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. She represented Canada on multiple National Teams and finished 6th at the Pan American Games in 1995. But her most important accolade is as a beacon of hope for families with CF.
And while winning was her job, fulfillment was her goal. Now she helps others learn how to win in life and how to be the best they can be with the cards they’ve been dealt. She encourages everyone to have the courage to get out of the comfort zone, to be an eternal student and to turn seemingly inevitable failure into victory. She demonstrates how attitude trumps fact no matter what that fact is.
Since retiring from professional sport, Lisa authored her first book An Unlikely Champion and has delivered motivational speeches across North America. She teaches audiences how to turn adversity into mastery and fires them up to be their best self every day. She has done sports commentary work with CBC, CTV, TSN and SportsNet for the Olympics and triathlon. She is an ambassador for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Lisa has an honors degree from the University of Waterloo in Math and Computer Science and a Bachelors of Education from the University of Western Ontario. Lisa taught high school for 7 years prior to pursuing sport full time in 1999.
Lisa was inducted into the Etobicoke Sports Hall of Fame in 2012 and into the Triathlon Canada Hall of Fame in September 2014. She continues to run marathons as an elite masters athlete with her best time of 2:47 at 46 years of age at the Boston Marathon.